In the past 12 months, our amazing Lifeline volunteers have answered record numbers of incoming calls, up by over 25% on the previous year.
Every day from 9am until midnight people can phone the National Christian Helpline on 0300 111 0101. Between April 2020 and March 2021, we answered a record 81,609 phone calls, which lasted for a total of over 1.3 million minutes, which is over 22,000 hours. Or to put it another way, Lifeliners listened, cared and where requested, prayed for an incredible 945 days!
Not surprisingly the impact of COVID increased the number of calls from people who felt isolated, afraid, unwell or who were mourning the loss of a loved one.
Before Premier Lifeliners can answer their first call, they must first graduate from an extensive training programme. Taking the calls from their own home is made possible thanks to some very clever software which diverts incoming calls to those Lifeliners who are ‘on call’. This meant that unlike most other helpline services, our Lifeliners didn’t need to attend a central office with all the associated COVID risks that would entail. We are so grateful for the dedication of our 120-plus volunteers who agreed to cover additional hours during the pandemic to help cope with the record numbers of incoming calls.
The value of the Premier Lifeline service was recognised by the Coronavirus Community Support Fund who gave two grants to support Premier initiatives to alleviate isolation and loneliness during lockdown.
Call5 was a campaign to encourage everyone to keep in contact with people they know who might be in need of human contact and a friendly voice. It also funded the Call and Care project, an online training resource with videos and written material to equip Churches and Community Organisations to train volunteers to support people in need through regular telephone contact. ‘Our video resources have now been watched coming up to 230,000 times. The network of people helped during this time was immense – callandcare.org.uk
Premier Lifeline is a confidential service – this means we are unable to give specific testimonies from grateful callers. However what we can tell you is, thanks to your gifts and prayers, over 80,000 people calling in for a very wide range of reasons have been listened to and where appropriate prayed for and/or referred to other agencies. Reasons for calling have included; mourning the loss of a loved one, mental health issues, contemplating suicide, addiction to alcohol or other drugs, requesting a prayer for healing, eating disorders, worried about debt, loneliness, issues of guilt and shame, and many other issues.
Would you like to explore becoming a Premier Lifeline volunteer, or could you give a gift to help us train even more Lifeliners?
Contact: Jonathan Clark, Director of Lifeline.
“The impact of COVID increased the number of calls from people who felt isolated, afraid, unwell or who were mourning the loss of a loved one.”
Key questions that producers, presenters, editors and contributors across all Premier media channels weekly grapple with include:
What are the spiritual, emotional and physical needs among our audiences and what part can we play in building up more prayerful engagement with international, national and local needs?
How can we encourage daily Bible reading among our audiences?
What new technological breakthroughs should we invest in to reach new audiences who need to hear the life-changing message of the gospel?
What timeless classic hymns and what new contemporary music songs are going to best engage with and encourage our existing and new audiences to worship God?
What stories are out there to gather and then share with our audiences that will inform, challenge, encourage and resource?
Despite the huge challenges that the pandemic brought, there are many stories of hope to share about how God has used Premier to bless and encourage individuals at their point of need. People like Clive, a funeral director from Oxfordshire told Premier that helping those who are bereaved has been especially tough.
“Sitting socially distanced in a chapel for a funeral service is so painful,” says Clive. “It’s bad enough to lose a loved one as it is, but to be separated, not in a position to hug, hold hands or put arms around one another is so painful. So it is immensely helpful to listen to Premier Christian Radio when I get in the car to travel to or away from those services. It lifts my spirit, feeds my soul and brings the presence of God near.”
Whether it is providing resources for Sunday school teachers or Christian youth workers through YCW magazine, offering a listening ear to the lonely through Premier Lifeline, helping people to worship from home via one of our three radio stations, providing intellectually stimulating discussions through one of our podcasts, getting our audience to engage with ethical issues on social media, or giving free daily scripture based devotionals through one of Premier’s various print or digital offerings – Premier has been busy offering hope during a particularly difficult year.
Emma from North London told us, “it’s been hard [locked down at home] to get away from the onslaught of terrifying Coronavirus news, whether it’s on TV or social media, the atmosphere is charged with fear, so it’s hard not to get sucked up into it. But in these times, I’ve managed to find peace and a feeling of hope. Through listening to Premier, there is always a song that speaks to how I’m feeling or a listener’s comment – it lifts me up. For me Premier is God’s instrument and right now, it’s His gift of peace for us.”